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Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the UAE Ministry of Education (MOE) and Abu Dhabi Education Council’s (ADEC) held the Qudwa Teachers’ Forum on Oct. 5, as part of a shared vision on advancing education in a rapidly changing world and preparing the education sector for the classroom of the future.

On the occasion of the Qudwa Forum, which coincided with World Teachers Day, His Highness expressed his appreciation for the indispensable role that teachers play in carrying the message of education to the nation’s youth and, in preparing future generations for a productive life. His Highness also commented on how quality education will be key to establishing a knowledge-based economy that enables the UAE to remain at the forefront of human progress.

“Innovation and creativity are essential components within the UAE’s strategy to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy that serves both current and future generations. This journey begins in the classroom, where teachers nurture strategic thinking and problem solving skills,” His Highness Sheikh Mohamed said. “This is one of the reasons why the UAE supports teachers as partners in shaping the present and building the future of our nation; only by investing in education will we be able to lay the foundations of a post-oil economy,” His Highness added.

His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council attended the forum. In addition, the delegation of senior officials that attended the event included: Lieutenant General His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Abu Dhabi Executive Council Member; His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; and His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council and Managing Director of Emirates Foundation for Youth Development.

The inaugural event which is part of a new global initiative, marked the evolution of learning in the digital age and honored exemplary teachers that have made an outstanding contribution to nurturing a rising generation of pioneering students and thought leaders in the UAE. Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to 20 outstanding teachers by His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed.

“I reiterate my congratulations to you, and reassure you that we appreciate your efforts and dedication, and hold you in great esteem,” His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said. “Teachers will always be a symbol of giving and sacrifice, and we will continue to support you as you deliver the highest standard of education to ensure you continue to be beacons of light and learning that will guide our beloved nation and the future generations of our sons and daughters.”

The forum attracted leaders in the field of education from around the world. Notable speakers that addressed the forum included His Excellency Minister Hussein Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education and His Excellency Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, Director General of ADEC, who spoke of the importance of moral education and its essential role in guiding future generations.

“This forum highlights the crucial role that teachers play in the transformation of the UAE education sector, of which the Ministry of Education is leading,” said His Excellency Minister Hussein Al Hammadi. “Our role as the Ministry is to ensure that we have qualified teachers that are trained to use a culture of innovation to lead their students, and this Forum was important to recognize excellence in teaching in the UAE and achieve understanding and engagement from teachers to our mission,” he added.

Speaking about the inclusion of moral education within the national school curriculum, His Excellency Al Nuaimi said: “In today’s modernizing world, we find ourselves confronted with a number of challenges to our beliefs and our way of life that can only be rebuffed through education. As teachers, we bestow upon you the honor and responsibility of raising our children, the future of our leaders, of our nation, down a path of humanity, decency, and tolerance. These are the attributes that have defined our culture, our people and which have to be instilled in our children from the very beginning. Teachers are the builders of our nation and thus must be the role models that show our students the importance of respecting others.”

Commenting on the forum, Her Excellency Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education praised the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, emphasizing the importance of encouraging youth to take up careers in education, and become role models for students of the future.

“The UAE has taken steps towards building a knowledge-based economy by investing in its people,” Her Excellency added. “This is achieved by providing quality education for our students, as well as through initiatives like the Qudwa Forum that help to elevate the role teachers play in our lives, and enable them to enhance their skills.”

Other local and international ministers included: His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education; Her Excellency Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education; His Excellency Dr. Majid bin Ali Al-Naimi, Minister of Education of Bahrain, and Her Excellency Ms. Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister of Education of Finland.

Ms. Grahn-Laasonen spoke about the significance of building teachers’ capacities in developing education systems, providing insights from one of the leading school systems in the developed world, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD). As Minister of Education she is responsible for the delivery of the Ministry’s Strategy 2020, which aims to enhance Finland’s knowledge base by responding to new trends in education and integrating technology within the classroom.

Two plenary sessions were held at the forum and served as a platform for sharing insights and ideas on the digital age. They showcased drivers of change in education like artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, and 3D printing. The first session, entitled Education for Tomorrow: The Future of Teaching, featured Andreas Schleicher, Dr. Chalapathy Neti, Dr. Talithia Williams, and Paul Tough.

The second plenary session focused on the inspiring role of teachers and their responsibilities in raising future generations, and featured HE Dr. Zaki Nusseibeh, Nafez Dakkak and Dr. Karima Al Mazroui. An estimated 3,500 teachers from across the UAE and GCC had the chance to attend a special exhibit that allowed them to experience some of these technologies, and the teaching techniques that are changing the education landscape.

Teachers who received a Lifetime Achievement Award included: Majida Abdel Fattah Radwan, Adila Mohammed Hussein Mansour, Farida Abdul Rahim Ahmed Al Hosani, Taqwa Mohammed Abdo Al Kaabi, Reem Salem Jabbour, Ayesha Abdullah Sulaiman Al Hanaii, Naima Nasser Mohammed Al Alawi, Bahja Noman Ali  Al Huwaidi, Aziza Mustafa Qotob, Sahar Mohamed Mahmoud Nasser, Ruwaida Mohamed Marwa, Mona Obaid Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Mariam Ahmed Ashour, Layla Obaid Salem Al Mutawaa Al Yamahi, Khalid Abdulla Mohammed Abdul Jabbar Alablam, Fatima Yusuf Ali Yusuf, Fatimah Khalfan Ali Khalfan Al Mutawaa, Badria Mohammed Abdullah Al Hammadi, Ismail Hussein Ali Al Hosani, and Noora Abdul Karim Al Ahmad.

The exhibit was supported by the UAE Space Agency, Masdar, the Masdar Institute and Strata, all of which have invested heavily in advancing science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education and create future business leaders that will help drive the UAE economy.